Upon arriving in Paris, I went to the American Student Center where I met a young woman who, much to my surprise, was the daughter of the then Governor of Maine, my home state. We chatted, and she told me the person I wanted to speak to was Mrs. Sargent, wife of the Reverend Sargent. Reverend Sargent was the pastor of the American Church of Paris. The Sergeants were connected because they were at the center of cultural activities for American ex-Patriots. I made an appointment with Mrs. Sergeant to come to my apartment and review my paintings and sketches. She became fascinated with the anti-nuclear sentiment in my work, and she and Rev. Sargent were very excited at the prospect of giving me an exhibition in Paris.
I later explained to the governor’s daughter that while I was flattered, I really hadn’t come to Paris to exhibit in a church. She told me to be patient and that if I was doing an anti-nuclear statement in my artwork and basing it an American church in Paris, that was gangbusters and I could expect major interviews. For impact, this was perfect. The fact that people could go to the church to see the work without being browbeaten by pushy sales people made it even more attractive.
The Sargents created a budget to transform the catacombs of the church into a gallery. Given the nature of the work I was creating, the catacombs were eminently suitable. I made lights out of beer cans, painted black. They were hidden up in the arches. They gave me the staff of the church, including the janitors, carpenters and electricians who were all ex-patriot Spaniards running away from Franco.
Because of the anti-nuclear statement and the unique location for the exhibit, my show in the American church’s catacombs attracted the foremost art critics of Paris. I had glowing reviews in Le Monde, The Herald Tribune, The New York Times Paris Edition, and several Paris magazines. What was intended to be a four-week exhibit was expanded to nine weeks.
After my successful stint in Paris, I returned to the United States where I taught art at two Pennsylvania colleges in the Lehigh Valley, just northwest of Philadelphia.